May 30, 2024

In a study by the Institute for Counter-Terrorism Policy at Reichman University, it has been revealed that extreme right-wing antisemitic groups in the USA are aggressively promoting their ideology within the anti-Israel campaign of the American liberal left. These efforts, conducted through clandestine right-wing networks, are believed to be fueling the surge in violence on campuses and city streets as well as the burgeoning wave of online antisemitic rhetoric.

Dr. Liram Kovlentz Stenzler, the editor of the study, highlights an unprecedented scenario where the radical left is absorbing ideologies from the extreme right, adversaries they have historically opposed: “The attack on Jews and Israelis rides on narratives of both the left and the right. Since October 7, we have seen an ideological convergence between the left and the right, which is very dangerous. Even classic right-wing antisemitic messages like ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ are now leaking to the left, and suddenly antisemitism against Judaism and Zionism are merging.”

Dr. Kovlentz Stenzler points out that U.S. college campuses serve as prime targets for these extreme right-wing actors: “Much of this hate discourse occurs on social networks, and students are the consumers. They don’t realize that this discourse partly comes from the extreme right, from people of ‘white supremacy.’ Students undergo a process of radicalization, are drawn into this ideology, and experience shows that ultimately there will be violence. There is a very great danger in the convergence between extreme left and extreme right, where Jews are their common enemy.”

Imposing a “New World Order”

Dr. Kovlentz-Stenzler, who leads the Antisemitism and Extreme Right Global Desk at the Institute and has served as a guest lecturer and researcher at Yale University for two years, has been monitoring extreme right movements not only on mainstream social networks but also on darker platforms including the darknet. The findings are alarming: during the Gaza conflict, these groups saw a unique opportunity to influence global sentiment against Jews and promote their agenda for a “New World Order.” These discussions often involve strategies to shift public opinion from merely disapproving of Israel’s actions in Gaza to fostering outright antisemitic aggression.

Neo Nazis trying to connect with Palestinians

(Photo: Social media)

The darkest of these discussions occur on the darknet, where illicit items like drugs and counterfeit credit cards are typically traded. Currently, there are talks about joining Hamas, sending them cryptocurrency support, acquiring weapons, and even planning attacks on synagogues. One disturbing forum ranks mass murder and terror events by victim count, with participants aspiring to climb this gruesome leaderboard.

The study reveals: “Our tracking of the extreme right shows that since October 7, they have been praising and supporting Hamas and its actions. The coordination between Hamas and the extreme right communities is not based on shared interests but on shared antisemitism. This convergence of hatred could lead to unexpected collaborations, including propaganda supporting Hamas, shared conspiracy theories, and motivation to extend Hamas’s war against Israel to a war against Jews outside of Israel.”

Dr. Kovlentz-Stenzler notes that these extreme right groups are careful not to expose their true intentions on heavily monitored social networks, opting instead for less regulated platforms where they can communicate more freely. “What we saw was amazing in our eyes: extreme right individuals are creating a strategy for spreading antisemitism into mainstream platforms. Their goal is to create a radicalization process, where normative people become antisemitic, with an ideology they did not hold until now,” she explains.

ד"ר לירם קובלנץ-שטנצלר, המכון למדיניות נגד טרור באוניברסיטת רייכמןDr. Liram Kovlentz StenzlerPhoto: Gabi Danon

The research outlines four main strategies these groups use to influence public opinion: crafting messages for specific demographics, engaging in popular social media discussions, creating fake accounts to amplify their messages, and using AI to generate viral memes. These efforts aim to radicalize primarily white center-left or conservative audiences, but also target other demographics with inflammatory claims about Jewish responsibility for historical and contemporary injustices.

Dr. Kovlentz-Stenzler emphasizes the dangerous potential of this rising trend: “Why is this terribly dangerous? Because this extreme right is spreading antisemitism and now they have greater legitimacy to bring things into the mainstream and they might radicalize people, who anyway do not like Israel. Antisemitism that starts online continues offline and there will be someone who eventually goes and commits the act.”

She actively participates in discussions with key policymakers and social media platforms to address and mitigate these threats. Additionally, Dr. Kovlentz is involved in the Adir Challenge, a competition aimed at curbing the spread of antisemitism, with the winners set to be announced on the upcoming Independence Day.